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Exercise: A Fifth ‘Vital Sign’?

Monday, 09 Jul 2012 12:03 PM


Should doctors consider exercise a critical fifth “vital sign” of human health – along with body temperature, pulse (heart rate), blood pressure, and respiratory rate? An international team of health experts has concluded the answer is an emphatic “yes.”
In a research paper published in The Lancet, the panel of experts noted many studies show regular participation in sports or exercise has clear benefits for physical and mental health. As a result, healthcare professionals need to pay more attention to their patients' fitness, which may be a more significant indicator of health quality than the four “vital signs.”
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"Low fitness is a better predictor of mortality than obesity or hypertension, which are health risk factors afforded far greater emphasis than fitness by the media and most health professionals," said Karim Khan of the University of British Columbia, Canada, one of the paper's authors.
The researchers suggested regarding exercise levels as a "vital sign" would allow healthcare professionals to provide more help for patients to adopt workout regimes, in the same way that smoking cessation advice has resulted in reductions in the number of people who smoke.
Vital signs are measures of various physiological statistics, in order to assess basic body functions.
"The evidence for physical activity as a major public health preventative approach and a potent medical therapy has increased exponentially in the 64 years since London, U.K., last hosted the Olympic Games,” the researchers said. “We believe that small changes at the community level and large, nationwide policies and initiatives are needed to improve health at a country level."
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Experts urge doctors to consider exercise a fifth 'vital sign,' beside blood pressure, pulse, temperature, and respiratory rate.
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2012-03-09
Monday, 09 Jul 2012 12:03 PM
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